Luke Prokop has become the first player under contract with a National Hockey League (NHL) franchise to come out as gay.
Canadian defenseman Prokop, a third-round draft pick for the Nashville Predators in 2020 who was signed to a three-year entry-level contract in December, made the announcement in a Twitter post published on Monday.
“Hi everyone. While the past year and a half has been crazy, it has also given me the chance to find my true self. I am no longer scared to hide who I am,” Prokop wrote.
“Today I am proud to publicly tell everyone that I am gay.
“It has been quite the journey to get to this point in my life, but I could not be happier with my decision to come out. From a young age I have dreamed of being an NHL player, and I believe that living my authentic life will allow me to bring my whole self to the rink and improve my chances of fulfilling my dreams.
“I wouldn’t be able to do this without my amazing family, friends, and agents - who have known this about me and met me with love and support every step of the way. I hope that in sharing who I am I can help other people see that gay people are welcome in the hockey community, as we work to make sure that hockey truly is for everyone.
“I may be new to the community, but I am eager to learn about the strong and resilient people who came before me and paved the way so I could be more comfortable today. This is just the beginning of my journey and I am excited to see where it takes me, both in hockey and in life.
Nashville prospect Prokop most recently played for the Western Hockey League’s (WHL) Calgary Hitmen and is the first active player in the WHL and Canadian Hockey League to come out as gay.
“People, unless they can be their authentic true selves, can’t be the best they can be,” said NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.
“Anybody who is connected to the NHL, whether it’s front office, whether it’s coaching and player development, whether it’s players, we want everybody to know that whoever you are, you have a place in our family.”
Prokop has received huge support and praise from around the world of hockey and beyond, with Nashville president and CEO Sean Henry adding: “The Nashville Predators organization is proud of Luke for the courage he is displaying in coming out today and we will support him unequivocally in the days, weeks, and years to come as he continues to develop as a prospect.
“A long-stated goal in our organization is equality for all, including the LGBTQ community, and it is important that Luke feels comfortable and part of an inclusive environment as he moves forward in his career."
Prokop’s announcement follows that of Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib, who last month became the first active NFL player to come out as gay.